Method ancestrale

Method ancestrale – also known as méthode rurale – is the oldest method to make sparkling wine.

What is it and how is it different from other methods?

The most obvious difference is that the method ancestrale does not involve a second fermentation. The first fermentation is stopped before all sugar has been converted into alcohol by cooling the wine to 0°. After a few months, the wine is bottled and the fermentation continues in the bottle and gives off CO2.

The end result is a bit sweeter and less fizzy than a traditional method sparkling wine. Adding extra sugar (dosage) is not allowed.

Where is it used?

The method is still used today, predominantly in the south of France, including Limoux (Languedoc-Roussillon), Die (Rhone), Gaillac (southwest France) en Bugey in Savoie.

Clairette de Die uses a similar but slightly different method, called method dioise ancestrale. The main difference between the two is that the method dioise ancestrale empties the wines into a pressurized tank and filters instead of riddling and disgorging.

Methode dioise ancestrale (quoted from The Oxford Companion to Wine):

  • The base wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks at very low temperatures over several months.
  • The wine is then filtered to remove most but not all of the yeast, bottled, and fermentation continues in bottle until an alcoholic strength of between 7 and 8.5% has been reached.
  • The wine is disgorged six to 12 months after bottling (the minimum time on lees is four months) before being filtered again and immediately transferred to new bottles.
  • The use of liqueur de tirage and liqueur d’éxpedition is both prohibited and unnecessary.

Sources & suggested readings:

Jancis Robinson – The Oxford Companion to Wine
Tom Stevenson & Essi Avalan – The World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wines

You like? Check out other WSET Diploma study notes.

Ik ben Nadien de Visser, wijnliefhebber pur sang. Ooit begonnen door een studie in Frankrijk en bij thuiskomst Le Club des Vins opgericht. Dé plek om je wijnkennis bij te spijkeren.

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